Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., Seawolves mascot Wolfie, staff members, and students pose for a photograph after welcoming the baseball team home from Baton Rouge on Monday in Stony Brook, N.Y. The team upset college baseball's powerhouse, the LSU Tigers, Sunday in the NCAA super regional. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Monday, June 11, 2012 7:23 PM
Best I can figure, years and years from now the words “Stony Brook” will still be a part of the LSU lexicon, a catch-all, catch-phrase warning.
Not bad for a school that few Tiger fans had ever heard of two weeks ago, a school they probably were rejoicing to learn would be coming to town instead of a name brand like Miami.
Be careful what you wish for.
From now on, LSU fans will just need two words — Stony and Brook — for a wide array of warnings and lectures, most notably when overconfidence or the assumption of anything creeps in.
Stony Brook will be the old standby line, sort of the way moms still use “kids are starving in India” when trying to get their little tots to clean their plates down to the last kernel of creamed corn.
“Remember Stony Brook!” they’ll say the next time LSU needs a Google search to identify an opponent.
Remember their no-name coach, Matt Senk, who said it was “just unbelievable” that he got to shake hands with Skip Bertman — just before jack-hammering the home team, six-time national champions who’d already made reservations in all the familiar Omaha steak houses.
What we learned over the weekend in Baton Rouge isn’t that anybody can beat anybody — we knew that already; they always could in baseball — but that there are closely guarded secrets in college baseball.
Stony Brook was one of them. Or maybe it was a dirty little trick the NCAA was playing on LSU.
At the least, if a fully empowered selection committee could make Stony Brook a No. 4 regional seed, do we really want to give up on computers and leave college football’s imminent mini-playoff up to a panel of experts?
Keep in mind that this was a team that had more people watching it Sunday night (10,620) in Alex Box Stadium than witnessed all 28 of its home games combined (6,228)
That’s about 223 per game. The Box probably has more ticket-takers and ushers than that.
Some teams get overwhelmed by it. Some under-appreciated teams feed off the fact they found somebody that actually cares and revel in it.
That was Stony Brook.
“They made this a great experience for us,” Game 3 winning pitcher Frankie Vanderka said of the LSU fans.
By Sunday night’s National Anthem, nobody in Alex Box Stadium was taking anything for granted after watching those Seawolves have a bashing good time in Alex Box Stadium all weekend.
LSU had history, tradition, the big name, a raving crowd ranting desperately, all the intangibles.
But sometimes the best team wins anyway.
I’m on board with LSU coach Paul Mainieri when he says the Seawolves were as good as anything he saw in the SEC this season.
And it wouldn’t shock me either if they won the whole thing.
Put it this way.
If Stony Brook, now headed to Omaha in LSU’s place, could take a few Tigers along with them to bolster their Omaha chances, I’m not sure who’d they’d trade for.
It’s a fun parlor game.
Some pitchers, certainly. The Tiger arms did about as well as could be expected. If LSU had played three intrasquad games, you’d probably have seen three no-hitters.
But among the position players?
If I were the Seawolves, I’d take Austin Nola at shortstop, mostly for his glove to shore up the left side of their infield, probably the Seawolves’ only sore spot. Maybe Mason Katz, although he’d be back at his natural first base spot so as not to bog down that quicksilver outfield.
But that would be about it.
Maybe LSU needs to quit recruiting the first two rounds of the next draft — it’s hard to out-bid the Majors with books and board —and start snooping around Long Island more.
With an extra seven hours to play with when Sunday’s final game was postponed from noon until 7 p.m. — apparently as a precaution to bright sunshine — the rumor mill kicked into overdrive.
Word was spreading quickly around The Box that the Seawolves were just about to run out of pitching, if they hadn’t already.
Maybe it was wishful thinking.
Maybe it just didn’t matter. Vanderka, the Stony Brook closer, promptly threw a three-hit compete game in the finale.
LSU and Mainieri said all the right things in giving credit to Stony Brook for their own struggles at the plate, namely a .153 batting average for the weekend which was into the 28th inning before they managed back-to-back base hits.
Well, maybe. I’m not sold on that quite yet. Let’s see how the Seawolves’ pitching holds up in Omaha. They were pretty generous in giving up runs while winning the Miami regional.
What may have been happening was that LSU’s offense had finally run out of smoke and mirrors.
And they probably used up all of that Alex Box voodoo magic just to win the first game in two days, 12 innings.
The Tigers never were a dynamic offensive team and probably were going to have to suddenly get “hot” to even think about doing much in the postseason.
Instead, they went stone cold.
It happens. Sometimes at the worst times. It has happened to far better LSU teams than this one.
It could happen again.
In the future, though, there will always be a proper warning: “Remember Stony Brook.”
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org